Tools I use for building websites

This article is long. Here are some quick links:

I’m proud of this little website. I’m not a designer (and you’d probably say something like, “well, that’s obvious”), but with the right tools I was able to quickly and efficiently build a web presence that supplies all the information a visitor needs.

The development of any of my websites would not have gone nearly as quickly as it had, had I not used good tools.

So let me introduce you to the tools I use on this site. (Warning, affiliate links ahead.)

WordPress CMS

First off, the site is built on the WordPress CMS framework. It’s one of the world’s most popular content management systems. It allows you to quickly get a website up and running.

It’s also free, which makes it even more amazing.

The SEO isn’t too bad either. I’ve worked with other CMSes. Joomla comes to mind. The SEO for Joomla is appalling. WordPress really shines in this area.

And although WordPress in and of itself is a good system to get anybody up and running, it’s really what other people are building around it that makes it shine.

Now on to customisations.

Again, as mentioned before, WordPress allows for the quick setup of an online presence. However, what if you’re looking for a custom design, and you don’t have the time or money to fork out on expensive WordPress development?

Then you’ll start looking at frameworks.

The WordPress framework landscape is as wide as Africa. There are TONS of frameworks out there. Many of them are brilliant; many of them suck.

Genesis WordPress framework

I looked at a number of frameworks. Eventually I settled on the Genesis framework for WordPress. The reason for this?

The SEO out of the box is just grand.

In fact, so much did I love Genesis that I bought the developer’s license, which allows me to use any one of their myriad of FREE (high quality) themes. It’s a good system with a solid backbone and you can confidently use it without an SEO plugin.

Michael Martinez SEO

I won’t be going into what SEO is and why it’s important and how some SEO “experts” are milking people because of misunderstanding of what a website should be. That’s not the mission of this page. If you want to read more about SEO, please take a look at Michael Martinez‘ stuff. He’s about the only SEO I trust and quite frankly, the only one whose advice you’ll need.

Dynamik WordPress child theme

I came across a monster of a theme.

Bear with me here. I’m speaking of a theme for a theme (in WordPress lingo, it’s known as a child theme). I know it doesn’t make sense, but the next tool I bought relies on the Genesis framework. It does not work if you don’t have Genesis installed.

It’s called Dynamik.

The Dynamik theme is seriously something out of this world.

It gives the website owner an incredible level of control at the click of a button. And if you’re really lazy, you can download a pre-designed theme and tinker with that.

I love Dynamik. Without it I wouldn’t touch WordPress.

That takes care of the major design options for WordPress.

But it doesn’t end there.

Beaver Builder for WordPress

Another plugin, which doesn’t necessarily rely on Genesis and/or Dynamik, is called Beaver Builder. It does, however, rely on WordPress to be installed. It’s called Beaver Builder and it’s an amazing plugin.

Beaver allows you to shape your WordPress to just about anything you want it to be. If you understand WordPress, you’ll know that it’s a content management system. It gives you a back office from where you control your public-facing website.

So, you’re not necessarily seeing any of the edits you’re making to your website, when you’re using the WordPress back office to create content.

Beaver allows you to make changes to your WordPress pages, and do it right on the public-facing website.

Not just that. Beaver Builder gives you two fistfulls of different modules that you drag onto the page. So if you want to add a video, you drag in a video block. If you want to drag in two columns with different content, side by side, without creating a coding mess, Beaver allows for that.

Beaver, along with Dynamik and Genesis, brings you just about the last piece of the puzzle for developing a good WordPress website.

Genesis Dambuster for Genesis (for WordPress)

There’s one more plugin. It’s called the Genesis Dambuster. As the name suggests, it’s dependant upon the Genesis framework. What this plugin does is allow you to make your pages fullscreen.

It’s popular these days to have some, or all, of your pages stretch the width of the computer screen. And although there are ways to get Dynamik to do this, the Dambuster plugin allows you to do this with the greatest of ease.

Dambuster also allows you to remove page elements (such as the header or footer) on a page-by-page basis. It’s a real time saver.

That takes care of the looks of the site.

Comet Cache

One more thing. WordPress is notoriously slow. The more plugins you add, the more likely it is to slow down to a crawl.

This is where caching comes in.

There are various caching plugins out there, but to be honest, I simply do not want to scratch where it’s not itching. That’s why I installed Comet Cache.

I’m not sure what the caching experts have to say about Comet Cache. What I like about it, besides the fact that my site loads much faster, is that you install and activate. It does all the heavy lifting for you, without breaking your website. And yes, setting up a caching plugin incorrectly can really kill your site.

That’s about it.

Those are the major systems I make use of to make this website tick. There are many more plugins, but you go ahead and build your site and start playing with the WordPress ecosystem.

Hosting

There are a number of options available for hosting, all of which offer good website hosting.

I would not recommend Afrihost. I’ve tried their hosting in the past and I wasn’t happy with their product in the least.

In conclusion

Getting a great website up and running can be a difficult task. I won’t tell you it’s a breeze (like some of the self-help website building services out there).

Using the right tools goes a long way towards making it a much more manageable task.

I hope this post helps you make the correct decision, if you’re in the market for developing a website.

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